Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert come together to give us a wonderful “funeral” for Batman that is a unique and clever celebration of Batman’s almost seventy year history.
The basic concept of “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” is that a bunch of Batman’s friends and foes show up at Crime Alley for Batman’s funeral. Then, much like Gaiman’s classic “World’s End” storyline in Sandman (which, in turn, was a cool riff on The Canterbury Tales), they stand up to tell stories of how they killed off Batman.
The first story is told by Catwoman, and it is a great mixture of both Robin Hood’s death (well, one version, at least – and even then, only one part of it) and classic noir stylings.
The second story is by Alfred, and it is a stunning take on the whole Batman Rogues Gallery. Very, very cool. Essentially, think of Alfred hiring actor friends to pretend to be super criminals. What a clever idea and the sadness of it all is executed beautifully by Gaiman.
The whole book is put together beautifully, as it is clear that Gaiman and Andy Kubert have spent a whole lot of time planning this book out. Kubert’s pencils are as impressive as they’ve ever been in the past, and he captures the various styles requested of him by Gaiman wonderfully.
The little touches really made the comic, though, especially the introduction of the major Batman villains, from Catwoman to Two-Face to Joker. Their entrances were almost note-perfect.
Batman fans who appreciate the history of the character sure are in for a treat, as Morrison’s great Last Rites storyline is followed up by this story, which is likely even better.
Both amazingly dense and lush stories evoking the past of Batman but also telling an interesting story in the present.
I’m intentionally being sparse on the details, as the details really make this comic, more so than most. Go read it!